LIVE: Donald Trump in Israel


The US president is now in Israel after two days in Saudi Arabia. MEE reports on the latest

MEE staff's picture
Last update: 
June 19 Jun 2018 10:48 UTC
  • Donald Trump is on his first visit to the Middle East as US president
  • On Monday he met the Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem and held talks with Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu
  • On Tuesday Trump will visit the occupied West Bank for talks with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas


Rouhani says hopeful Europe won't follow Trump's lead on Iran

Iran welcomes cooperation at all levels to bring stability to the Middle East, President Hassan Rouhani told his French counterpart on Monday, hours after US President Donald Trump lambasted Tehran again as he tours the region.

In a telephone call, Rouhani told France's new president Emmanuel Macron he was hopeful that Europe would not copy Trump's stance against the Islamic Republic.

"The Islamic Republic is ready for cooperation in all levels with other countries, including France, to fight against terrorism and to resolve the Syrian crisis," Rouhani was quoted saying to Macron by Iran's state news agency IRNA.

The French leader had called to congratulate him on being re-elected in Friday’s presidential vote.

"We should bring peace and stability back to the region. We hope Europe does not fall into the trap of countries that promote their wrong interpretations of the region," Rouhani was also quoted as saying.

What Salman made of Trump's Saudi visit

Back in Saudi Arabia, King Salman has described Trump's weekend visit as a "turning point" in relations between the two countries, according to state news agency SPA.

Speaking to his council of ministers, Salman also praised the "historic agreement" between Gulf monarchies and Washington "to take firm measures to target the financing of terrorism" and the setting up of a Riyadh-based centre for this task, SPA said.

The hub will be known as the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology - or "Etital", the Arabic for “moderation”.

Where Trump goes next

Tomorrow Donald Trump heads to the occupied West Bank for those talks with Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Here's how that fits in the rest of his schedule:

Trump says he never mentioned Israel in meeting with Russians

President Trump said Monday that he never mentioned Israel during an Oval Office meeting when he disclosed highly classified intelligence to Russian diplomats. The origin of the intelligence has never been identified.

"I never mentioned the word or the name Israel. Never mentioned during that conversation," Trump said in Jerusalem during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said during the meeting with Trump that “intelligence cooperation is terrific” with the United States.

“It's never been better," he added.

Hamas says Trump smeared Palestinian 'resistance'

Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas accused US president Donald Trump on Monday of smearing the name of Palestinian "resistance" to Israeli occupation during a speech on Islam.

Addressing Muslim leaders in Riyadh on Sunday, Trump called for unity against "Islamic terror", specifically naming Hamas and the Islamic State group.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said Trump's remarks were "aimed at besmirching the reputation of the Palestinian resistance".

Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh (AFP)

The movement refused to be treated as a "terrorist" organisation, he told AFP.

Senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said Trump was "aligning himself with the policies of the (Israeli) occupier".


'Day of Rage' called for Tuesday, when Trump and Abbas meet

A “Day of Rage” has been called for across Palestine on Tuesday, when Trump and Abbas are expected to meet in Bethlehem.

Monday saw a general strike across the occupied West Bank in solidarity with the some 1,300 Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli jails since April 17.

The media committee for the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike has also called for Tuesday’s “Day of Rage,” local media has reported.

Palestinian shot dead after allegedly attempting to stab Israeli forces

A Palestinian has been shot dead after allegedly attempting to stab Israeli forces, according to police, AFP has reported.

The incident occurred in the Abu Dis area, near Jerusalem but located in the West Bank. No police officers were hurt, Israeli police said.

There was no indication that the alleged stabbing attempt was linked to Trump's visit. Several such incidents have occurred in recent months.

From West Wing to Western Wall

Donald Trump on Monday became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall in the disputed city of Jerusalem, placing his hand on one of the most sacred sites in Judaism.

The Western Wall is the holiest site where Jews can pray. Trump, wearing a black skullcap, paused in front of it, then placed what appeared to be a written prayer or note between its stones, as is custom.

He was not accompanied by any Israeli leaders.

Trump stands alone at the Western Wall, Jerusalem (Reuters)

Mike Huckabee visits shrine in occupied West Bank, as petrol bombs thrown at convoy

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was among thousands of right-wing Israelis who visited Joseph's tomb, east of Nablus, overnight on Sunday, sparking clashes. 

Palestinian newspaper Maan news reported that clashes broke out between young Palestinians and Israeli forces who were escorting the group, "with Israeli soldiers firing tear gas canisters and stun grenades at the protesters who pelted soldiers stones and empty bottles."

Al Jazeera reported that Huckabee's convoy was hit with petrol bombs. 

"To have to do it in the dead of night, under armed guard, with the smell of tear gas in the air, burning tires along the route, it's a stark reminder (to how different) it is in the heart of Israel, where the Israeli government protects every Muslim that accesses their holy site," Huckabee said after the visit, according to Israeli news website Y'net news.  

Huckabee originally stood against Trump in the Republican primaries last year, but now supports the president.

Hamas says Trump smeared Palestinian 'resistance'

Hamas on Monday accused US President Donald Trump on Monday of smearing the name of Palestinian "resistance" to Israeli occupation during a speech on Islam.

Addressing Muslim leaders in Riyadh on Sunday, Trump called for unity against "Islamic terror", specifically naming Hamas and the Islamic State group.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said Trump's remarks were "aimed at besmirching the reputation of the Palestinian resistance".

The movement refused to be treated as a "terrorist" organisation, he told AFP.

Senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said Trump was "aligning himself with the policies of the (Israeli) occupier".

In his speech, Trump called on Muslim leaders to confront "the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds". 

He specifically named Sunni militants IS and al-Qaeda and Lebanon's Hezbollah alongside Hamas.

Hamas used force to seize control of the Gaza Strip from secular Palestinian rivals in 2007 after winning an election.

It is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States, the European Union and Israel, with which it has fought three wars in the Gaza Strip since 2008.

Trump visits Church of the Holy Sepulchre, before Western Wall

Trump is currently visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in East Jerusalem, where Christians believe Jesus was buried and resurrected. 

Israeli newspaper Haaretz has highlighted that Trump is the first sitting US president to visit a Christian holy site before a Jewish holy site, while in Israel and the occupied territories. 

Donald and Melania Trump visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Monday (AFP)

Confusion reigns, part II

Having arrived from Saudi Arabia to Israel on Monday morning, Trump appeared to be suffering from jet-lag, as he reportedly told his Israeli counterpart Rivlin that he had just arrived "back" from the Middle East. 

Abbas to concede more land to Israel in Trump meeting

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will present a plan that would see the Palestinians giving up 6.5 percent of their lands to Israel, three times as much as previously offered, MEE reported on Sunday.

The proposal excludes Jerusalem and appears to cement the vision of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert for a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement, a Palestinian official close to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) told Middle East Eye.

Read more ►

EXCLUSIVE: Abbas to offer large land swap with Israel in Trump talks

"The Palestinian side will be presenting [during the meeting with Trump] a new vision which is quite detached from that of the majority of the Palestinian people," the source told MEE. "This vision is based on exchanging a lot of Palestinian lands.

"Previous discussions about a Palestinian-Israeli settlement revolved around the exchange of only 1.9 percent of the lands, but now we are talking about more than triple that amount," said the source.

Speaking with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday, Trump also said he was looking forward to discussing the peace process with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whom he is due to meet in Bethlehem on Tuesday morning. 

"I thank both you and PM Netanyahu for your commitment to achieving peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I also look forward to discussing the peace process with President Abbas."

Iran must "immediately" cease funding of terrorists: Trump

In West Jerusalem, Trump and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin stressed the threat of Iran. 

Trump said that Iran must 'cease immediately' its funding, training and equipping of "terrorists and militias".

US President Donald Trump and Israel's President Reuven Rivlin shake hands following a press conference at the president's residence in West Jerusalem (AFP)

"Most importantly the United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon - never ever - and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias," Trump said in remarks at Rivlin's residence.

"And it must cease immediately."

First flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel?

Trump's Monday morning flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel is thought to be the first of its kind. 

A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel told AFP he was not aware of any flight taking that course before.

But it's possible that private flights have taken place. 

A government official told Haaretz he was not aware of any such flight having taken place before, but stressed, at least not one in "broad daylight" or in view of the press. 

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One to depart for Israel from King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on Monday morning (Reuters)

Israel has no diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia despite informal ties on certain levels, particularly around shared concerns over Iran. 

Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries to have signed peace deals with Israel.

Israeli citizens, however, can travel to Saudi Arabia and thousands of Muslims attend the annual hajj pilgrimage there, flying with stopovers in neighbouring countries.

Speaking at Trump's reception, Netanyahu said he hoped one day an Israeli PM would be able to make the reverse flight, from Tel Aviv to Riyadh. 

Sara Netanyahu, cosying up to Melania, says 'the people love us'

Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara, who has been the subject of many controversies, often involving spending, appeared to attempt to endear Melania Trump to her, by saying “the media hates us but the people love us, just like you,” according to a Haaretz journalist. 

But Melania seemed perhaps distracted, apparently batting away her husband's attempt to hold hands...  

File #Trump

Confusion reigns, and Netanyahu appears not to approve of Trump selfies

It was reported that those in attendance at Monday's airport reception for Donald Trump had to arrive two and a half hours early, in order to get through security. 

That didn't mean anyone had any idea about what where to stand and what was going on. 

Netanyahu was said to have been furious when he found out on Sunday that many of his ministers were not planning to attend Trump's reception, and ordered them to attend. 

The prime minister also seemed less than impressed when an Israeli MP tried to take a photo with Trump on Monday, batting his hand away mid-selfie.

The resulting photo...

Which someone took the opportunity of tagging "Dumb and dumber"...

Trump declines public offer from Netanyahu to accompany him to Western Wall

Trump, due to be the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall, publicly declined an offer from Netanyahu to accompany him on his visit to the holy site, Al Jazeera has reported.

Read more ►                                                                             

Israel wants US to explain official's Western Wall comment

Netanyahu’s team had earlier asked if the Israeli PM could join Trump, to which a US diplomat replied that the trip was private.

The US official reportedly said Israel did not have jurisdiction in the area and that Netanyahu was not welcome to accompany Trump there.

Trump tour times

Here's the US president's itinerary, courtesy of Haaretz. Israeli time is three hours ahead of GMT.

Note that he was actually met by the Israeli president after landing.

Israel is offering Palestine limited economic 'concessions'

Prior to Trump's arrival, Israel had agreed to certain economic measures for the Palestinians, something the American president had requested. 

"The security cabinet has approved economic measures that will ease daily civilian life in the Palestinian Authority after [Trump] who arrives tomorrow, asked to see some confidence building steps," the cabinet statement said.

Read more ►

Israel approves economic 'concessions' for Palestinians

The measures included the building of two new industrial zones in Palestinian areas and the easing of permits for Palestinian house construction in the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control. The Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan would also be kept open 24 hours a day.

But Netanyahu's security cabinet also voted to examine legalising Jewish settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank.


Trump: Rare opportunity for peace before us

Speaking of the atrocitities of the last century, Trump said the time for peace was now.

"We must work together to build a future where the nations of the region are at peace and all of our children can grow, grow up strong and free from terrorism and violence.

"During my travels in recent days, I have found new reasons for hope," Trump said. 

"Yesterday I met with King Salman and the leaders from across the Muslim and Arab world, and ... we reached historic agreements to pursue greater and greater cooperation to fight against terrorism."

"We can only get there working together, there is no other way," he added, describing it is a "rare opportunity" for peace. 

The US president ended his short speech by declaring, to the sound of applause, "We love Israel, we respect Israel, and I send your people the warmest greetings from your closest ally."

Netanyahu: One day I hope an Israeli PM can fly to Riyadh

Speaking at Trump's reception, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he hoped one day an Israeli premier can fly to Saudi Arabia. "Mr President, you just flew from Riyadh, to Tel Aviv. I hope that one day an Israeli PM will be able to fly from Tel Aviv to Riyadh."

"May your first trip to our region prove to be a historic milestone on the path towards reconciliation and peace," Netanyahu said.

Trump and Netanyahu speak at the airport reception (AFP)

That sword dance

For anyone who missed it, here's Trump dancing with a sword in Saudi Arabia.


Iran hits back at Trump speech in Saudi Arabia

Donald Trump during his speech in Riyadh (AFP)

There's been significant blowback in Iran to a speech by Donald Trump during his visit to Saudi Arabia yesterday. Iran accused the US on Monday of selling arms to "dangerous terrorists" in the Middle East and of spreading "Iranophobia" to encourage Arab states to buy weapons.

"Once again, by his repetitive and baseless claims about Iran, the American president ... tried to encourage the countries of the region to purchase more arms by spreading Iranophobia," said Bahram Qassemi, a foreign ministry spokesman.

The US president ended a visit to Tehran's arch-foe Saudi Arabia where arms deals worth almost $110bn were signed.

Sending a tough message to Tehran shortly after pragmatist Hassan Rouhani was re-elected president, Trump had urged Arab and Islamic leaders to unite to defeat Islamist militants, and said Iran had for decades "fuelled the fires of sectarian conflict and terrors".

Qassemi said Washington was "reinvigorating terrorists in the region by its hostile policies" and "should stop selling arms to dangerous terrorists".

He said the United States and its allies "should know that Iran is a democratic, stable and powerful country" and that it promoted "peace, good neighbourliness, and the creation of a world opposed to violence and extremism".

Car ramming in Tel Aviv injures three

Amid high security, a car ramming in Tel Aviv has injured three people, hours before Trump was due to land, according to Israeli media. 

Police said it was not yet clear if it was a deliberate attack, and the suspect is in custody, the Times of Israel reported. 

Trump arrives in Israel

Donald Trump arrived in Israel on Monday on a flight from Saudi Arabia and will separately meet Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in an attempt to revive peace talks.

Air Force One landed at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport after what is believed to be the first direct flight to Israel from Riyadh, where Trump spent two days.

The US president's nine-day trip through the Middle East and Europe, his first foreign tour since taking office in January, ends on Saturday after visits to the Vatican Brussels and Sicily.